The Spirit of Atlanta

The Burning of Atlanta

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While essentially a vanity project for composer/producer/arranger Thomas Stewart, backed here by a cadre of "Hot 'Lanta" session players, The Burning of Atlanta is nevertheless an excellent funk LP that boasts the panoramic scope of a classic blaxploitation soundtrack. With the vocals embedded deep in the mix, the emphasis lies squarely on the record's intensely hypnotic grooves -- most of the tracks extend past the five-minute mark, with the epic "Messin' Around" clocking in at nearly twice that total. Stewart's dramatic melodies also boast a sheen recalling Curtis Mayfield's classic Superfly -- and just in case you couldn't place the reference, there's even an answer song: "Freddie's Alive and Well."

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